Stones as well as sticks may break our bones but our names will hardly hurt us.
Maybe not, but a taunt can and does affect a person for years if not for life. Such derision is especially hurtful and psychologically damaging if the insults come from family.
As reported in The Huffington Post recently, an article pertaining to this subject sparked a lively debate on Facebook. Remarks ranged from emotional pleas for parents to end giving their children complexes concerning weight to anger those scientists seem to be sanctioning by saying nothing in light of the rising childhood obesity epidemic.
How injurious such insults are is best related by the victims.
Atlanta, Georgia resident and mother Lori Gomez, 30, developed a grave eating disorder at 11-years-old following a visit with her mother to a Weight Watchers meeting. Due to that, she doubts if she will ever feel she will ever feel at ease being naked when close to her husband. As the mother of two girls, she is cautious and watches her words when discussing the human body.
She tells both girls they are attractive and ideal as they are. Reflecting back on her childhood, she cannot recall her mother saying anything similar and that affected her self-esteem.
Farah Benero, 39, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, recalls her mother always comparing her to her thin sister, using special gifts and enticements in an effort to inspire her to shed weight during her childhood. After moving from her parents’ home she felt free but her mother’s criticism manifested itself as a love affair with food and drink that resulted in her adding 200 pounds to her 5’2 frame.
Not until taking up yoga at age 38 did Benero start to appreciate her body. Now the mother of two boys, she does not repeat her mother’s mistakes in their upbringing.
Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a scientist who concentrates on teen health and nutrition and an author has determined, and she is not alone, that parents who assume they are assisting their children using derision will find there are repercussions for the child.
A study by her determined that teasing about weight places overweight youth at a higher risk for additional weight gain and that cruel weight-related statements coming from family members particularly are connected to poor eating habits.
She counsels parents to have the home as a sanctuary where children are protected from weight-related issues, ridicule and ribbing.
As with other professionals on teen and child nourishment, Neumark-Sztainer explained the best way to assist children is to set an example that is equally applicable to both normal and overweight children. Generally, what parents do, say and think is very important: if healthy food is provided at home during family meals children will probably have more nutritious fare.
Additional advice includes making vegetables and fruits available and blending physical exercise into usual family rhythms. Her research shows that promoting diets for children predicts weight gain so do not promote them.
Neumark-Sztainer advises parents getting dressed to go out to not make any negative comments about their own weight because it does carry some influence with children.
Huffington Post reader Kelly England, 48, from Lexington, South Carolina, knows that all too well. She encountered mixed messages concerning weight when her mother told her to refuse dessert but her brothers could consume any amount they wanted.